- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Board of Education voted to allow public hearings on a process that would assign A-through-F letter grades to the state’s public schools.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1pRjO5o ) reports board members were divided on whether Arkansas residents should vet the grading proposal presented by the Arkansas Board of Education.

Three out of seven board members voted against the measure. Jay Barth of Little Rock, Alice Williams Mahony of El Dorado and Joe Black of Newport said the public hearings and Nov. 1 implementation are premature.

Mahony said the necessary test data that will be used to assign grades have yet to be gathered.

“These are new methods and there is no data,” she said. “The results will be skewered.”

Barth suggested that a plea be made so there’s more time to work out the logistics and collect data. He said he’s concerned that the process is being rushed and will cause inconclusive results.

“The whole validity of the whole endeavor starts to go away,” Barth said.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Tony Wood said he has already requested more time from state lawmakers.

“I’ve got really strong feelings about this, but it’s another one that I lost,” he said.

The grading system is based on student performance in math and literacy, graduate rates and targets, size of achievement gaps, progress in meeting annual performance and growth. Poverty level and school size are also taken into consideration.

Barth said he thinks science should be added to the assessment measures.

Mahony, who’s a former teacher, said she is unconvinced that the letter grades will produce the results legislators are hoping for.

“I have given an F out, but I haven’t done it lightly,” she said. “In some cases it incentivizes and in other cases it doesn’t.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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